Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mannequin Makeover & Repair

Yesterday afternoon, I was on a mission...hunting for the finishing touches on the gear desk I'm building for my son.  I headed to the local antiques stores and a music'll have to wait for that post to see what I found....the perfect thing!  Then it was off to Lowe's for the last few supplies...  Next to junkin', one of my favorite things to do is spend time in a hardware store.  I love looking at all the parts, pieces and materials and wondering what might come in handy for a junkin' project.  I'm like a kid in a candy store...and don't get me started on the tools...that will have to be a separate post...
As I was meandering through the aisles, I started thinking of all the little unfinished projects at home and decided to see if I could find the parts I needed to take care of a few things.  I was so excited to find what I needed to fix my broken, I thought it would be a good time to share her story...

Chapter One:  "Necessity is the mother of invention."

Have you noticed that whenever you come across a really awesome mannequin it's either "For Display Only" or really over-budget?  I really needed a mannequin...for display at shows, to be my model for photos... to help me in my sewing room for alterations...all sorts of things.  I came across a new mannequin at TJ Maxx for  $70.00.  I was happy with the price but didn't really like how "new" and generic it looked.  It was covered in a gray linen for a faux vintage feel but I wanted something a little more rustic for my displays.  The other problem with new mannequins is that they aren't padded enough for me.  I want to be able to put a pin in it without bending the pin.  So, I bought the mannequin and decided to reupholster it to suit my needs.  

First, I took the mannequin off the stand then removed the top finial and all the fabric.   The mannequin appeared to be made of fiberglass so I needed lots of padding.  I buy Dacron by the roll from an upholstery supply store so I decided to use a couple of layers to give myself enough padding for pins.  

TIP:  I use a spray adhesive called Cam Tack that I purchase from the same supplier.  It's used by automotive and furniture upholsterers.  I figure if I'm going to do my own upholstery projects and want them to turn out professional-looking, then I need to use the tools and products the professionals use.  

Unfortunately, I did this project before I started this blog so I don't have photos of the actual re-upholstery.  The best advice I can give is to do this outside on a protected table because this glue is very sticky and smelly.  Gloves are also a good idea.  Be patient, dry fit and cut before spraying the glue.  I worked the front side first as far back as I could, then added the back side and worked on the side seams.  I don't want the neck or the base to be too bulked up when I'm coming around those edges with my final fabric, so I cut the Dacron even with the top and the bottom.  After the two layers of Dacron, I covered the whole thing with a layer of natural muslin so that I could pull the fabric tight and get the shape of the mannequin without having to worry about making it look pretty.  
This was a good idea since I had never done this before and it gave me sort of a practice run before the final layer.   My final layer was burlap.  I like the texture and the color looks more natural.  Leave several inches of fabric at the neck so that you can glue it to the inside of the neck for a nice clean finish.  Do the same at the bottom and trim off any excess.

The finial and stand were already black which was fine with me, but a little shiny and new so I just sanded them to get rid of the shine and exposed wood here and there.  A coat of wax gave it a finish but left it looking vintage. 
Chapter Two:  "Confession is good for the soul..."

So, the first time I took my new made-over mannequin to a show I broke it on the way home.  Note to self:  Remove the stand before transporting a mannequin.  
Yesterday morning, my husband asked me to help him repair an irrigation line and as he was gluing the PVC pipe I had a lightbulb moment....maybe his PVC glue would fix the black plastic part from my broken mannequin?  It didn't work....same with the Gorilla glue and every other glue I had in my arsenal.  I had no choice but to try to find replacement parts.

Fast forward to my afternoon trip to the hardware store.  Eureka!   I found the first part on the electrical aisle.  It was a 3/4" steel set screw connector.  I had recently done a project using 3/4" galvanized pipe from the plumbing department and had an idea, so I headed that way and was excited to find out the thread for the electrical connection was the same as plumbing parts.  Perfect!  A 3/4" galvanized floor flange was just what I needed.  

I painted the parts black to match the stand and wouldn't you know, the holes lined up perfectly with the holes already in the base.  

My made-over mannequin is back on her stand and ready for her next job....I think I'll call her Grace....
"For Display Only"


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